Friday, November 26, 2010

Restaurant Review: L'Escalier

My lunch in Cologne was had at L'Escalier (Brüsseler Strasse 11; phone # 0221 205 3938).

They serve a two-course, delicate French lunch for 17.50 euro. The trick behind this affordable price for sophisticated dishes is serving in small portions. Having said that, every bite is enjoyable at this restaurant.

As an appetizer, three small heaps of orange-colored vegetables, pumpkins finely chopped and fried, carrots finely chopped and fried, and carrots thinly sliced and pickled, are served on a wooden, rectangular tray. Along with them come a basket of bread including fantastic home-made potato bread. The accompanied lemon butter is very nice. The amount of bread is generous enough that customers won't leave the restaurant with a hungry stomach.

Today's starter is carrot and ginger soup. Slightly frothed on top with chopped parsley, the soup that includes bits of carrots warms up my body frozen by near-zero temperatures outside. The amount of ginger in it is just right, not too much to disturb the taste of carrot and not too little to be insignificant.

The main course is a small chunk of pike-perch steak and several pieces of dumplings (nothing inside) served on vegetable ragout with tarragon flavor. Even though it is only a mouthful, pike-perch steak is beautifully done. And tarragon prevents the taste bud from getting bored with the otherwise straightforward taste of vegetable ragout.

After being satisfied with the foods, I feel like drinking a cup of black tea. This can be a risky way of finishing the meal. Black tea in Germany tends to be very poorly served. The most typical is a glass cup of hot water with a teabag and the lid, which is a total disaster to infuse black tea properly. (Why don't they put the tea bag into boiling hot water on their own before serving it?) But no such worry at this restaurant. They serve Darjeeling tea properly in a black tetsubin (Japanese cast iron tea pot).

Two waitresses work diligently and attentively. Even when I reveal my lack of knowledge on French foods (I couldn't tell tarragon from lemongrass), they just nicely correct my ignorance. They know what they are serving, so you can talk to them about the foods served. Of course, they speak English pretty well.

Highly recommended if you are around Cologne during the lunch time. It's a few minute walk from Rudolfplatz U-bahn station.

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